The Impact of social media- Has social media taken over our lives?
Has the impact of social media taken over our lives? What is social media? Social Media is a tool that was made to make the world “more openly connected”. There are times when we just had enough of it- and feel that it’s necessary to take a break or ‘disconnect‘ ourselves from this tool that is constantly grabbing our attention. Once we choose to take a break, we make a public announcement on our news-feed informing everyone of this newsflash event but who are we fooling? Weeks or even just days go by after the deactivation process and shamefully login to fulfill those dopamine withdrawals from those bright red notifications. Then we take a ‘quick’ scroll down our news-feed to see who’s in the lead of the status race. Through social media, you can privately create your own world and then publically project that world to the outside world. No matter what you’re going through, you can craft your own persona of any kind and develop sort of an identity that is completely dissimilar to your real-world identity. You have the power to make people believe you have ‘X’ and ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ when in reality, you only have ‘A’ and ‘B’. And if you’re suffering from any deeply rooted insecurities, it’s the perfect place to run to for validation. From the outside looking in, the options seem limitless, the benefits, enrapturing. This is the impotent loop that everyone in this world with a social media account can attest to. What I am about to share with you is a topic that I wanted to share for quite some time now. But I read a book on this topic, and it was only until recently when I discovered a mind-blowing phenomenon in regards to the impact of social media, and one day it finally hit me. The questions remain, “why are we addicted to social media?”
You see, social media is no different than a life-threatening drug that can put your life, and the lives of others around you in danger. Although this may sound like nonsense at first, it makes perfect sense if we break down the parallelism of social media to drugs and provide some examples. Let’s first ring up the definition of the word “drug“.
For the sake of this example, in the photo above I have blurred out definitions 1, 3 and 4 to only focus on definition 2 which states that a drug, is “something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness.”
We obviously all know that social media is not an illegal substance, but it is ‘something’ that DOES in fact, cause an addiction, habituation or a marked change in consciousness.
The Early World Before The Social Media Epidemic:
Way long ago, I’d say about two decades or so, the internet boom was just coming into effect circa late 90’s. Around this time, the smartphone did not yet exist. The only phones that were around at the time were the early Blackberry’s, Nokia phones and other similar models; or as we refer to them today as, “brick phones“. Whenever you went out in public, any time a person pulled out their phone was to either make a quick call, answer a quick call, send a quick text or quickly check a text that they received. Notice the significance of the word ‘quick‘ being used. Well, that’s really how it used to be, it was a quick process. Besides that, the only other reason people pulled out their phones was to play a quick game of snake. That’s it. Not to mention, millions of people also walked around with pagers attached to the hip which only provided an audible alert and had none of these previously mentioned features available. The only form of ‘social media’ that people really had access to was the early development of IRC (Internet Relay Chat) chat rooms starting in the late 80’s through the BBS (Bulletin Board System) technology that lasted all the way up to the late 90’s. Then the more user-friendly MSN, AOL and Yahoo chatrooms were introduced. But obviously, the only way you could use such chatrooms was if you actually owned a PC or laptop, with a working internet connection (which was dial-up/broadband at the time). Now even though these chatrooms provided everyone the proper convenience of being able to communicate with each other worldwide, the mobile aspect of it was still non-existent. Whenever you went out in public, no matter where it was, it was quite a rare occurrence to see a person’s eyes glued to their phones. Even walking into a waiting area such as a lobby if someone had an appointment scheduled, once sitting down, people were actually forced to strike up a conversation with one another in an attempt to kill time. Nowadays, you can’t even go to a family reunion without everyone being glued to their phones moments after seeing one another!
But around 2004, things started getting interesting!
Myspace: The Worlds First Internet Boogyman
I don’t think there’s one single soul watching this video who doesn’t remember this site. I think we can all agree that Myspace was the first website to put social media on the map. Myspace was introduced to the world wide web in late 2003 and skyrocketed in popularity in early 2004. This was a site where you could join by simply creating a profile with the most cringe-worthy picture of your younger self, and then spend days upon days customizing your profile into an hour-long scroll fest of blinding font and deaf inducing media players.
This right here was the start of the new age addiction to social media. Although myspace was introduced, it was still not yet possible to view the site from a mobile device. And if it was possible, more than likely it was probably not very user-friendly at all. This meant that in order to use this site smoothly, one would still need to use a laptop or PC with a good internet connection. Furthermore, a couple of years later a NEW invention came along that would bridge the gap between social media and mobility that would forever change the state of the world and how people connect with one another. And this is where things tend to get a little ‘scary’.
The Iphone: When Social Media Started Going Full-Blown Mobile- The ‘Alien-nation’ begins.
Now this is when the real impact of social media began. In 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled what would soon become one of the most revolutionary, innovative inventions of the technology realm known to mankind. So revolutionary that he took the laptop and PC, and shrunk them down to the size of a 4.5 by 2.4 inch mobile device. This meant that mostly all of the features that were once exclusive to only a PC or laptop, could now be accessed from this device in the palm of your hands which initiated a significant boost of convenience for all its users. With the iPhone, a few of the most important features was the hands-free calling, the email, the digital camera and the mobile browser which enabled users to browse the internet on the go. Interestingly enough, a year prior to its release, only a whopping 1% of the world owned a smartphone. However, in 2007, the iPhone took the world by storm- with reports of selling 270,000 units within the first 30 hours of it’s release! Shortly after, the iPhone quickly found itself in the hands of millions worldwide and would soon be known as the leading contributor to the infamous social media addiction. So now we ask ourselves, what happens when you merge this mobile addiction with social media addiction together??
Social Media Takes Over The World
Back in September 26, 2006, Facebook was publically opened to everyone worldwide at least 13 years old of age with a valid email address. Just in the year 2009 alone, Facebook’s US user base grew from 42 million to 103 million. That’s a 144.9% growth rate! And a year later in 2010, Facebook amassed traffic of 400 million users around the globe.
Around this same year, Instagram was introduced as the runner-up in the Social Media competition. And the impact of social media increased ten fold. Check out the graph below showing the user growth of Instagram over the past decade.
In the early stages, Facebook found it’s birth on both Desktop PC’s and Laptops alike. But over-time, it was apparent that millions of users were logging into their Facebook accounts from mobile devices more and more. With the majority of users logging into the social network via smartphones or tablets, it was a no-brainer idea to adopt a mobile-based platform which would enable users quick and easy access to Facebook without having to navigate through a mobile browser. Thus, Facebook considered that the perfect remedy would be to introduce Facebook to the mobile Android market. And the Facebook Mobile App was born. Now on the other hand, as soon as Instagram was born it was flip-side. It was readily made available as a mobile app from the very beginning and then later moved on to desktops. So now, you have these two, POWERHOUSE social networks with apps that anyone can download via the Android or IOS marketplace in minutes. The requirements? A pulse and a smartphone.
At this point, because of the convenience that smartphones provided for its users, it slowly became more like an actual drug. In fact, According to a study of Australian consumers by San Francisco-based media-buying firm RadiumOne, social media usage is a dopamine gold mine. “Every time we post, share, ‘like,’ comment or send an invitation online, we are creating an expectation,” according to the study. “We feel a sense of belonging and advance our concept of self through sharing (Molly Soat. Marketing News)”
In other news, New York University professor Adam Alter, author of “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, explains what happens to your brain when someone likes your post on Instagram or any other social media platform (Business Insider). The following is a transcript of the video:
Social Media Addiction Ensues
We live in a society where presentation (be it truth or exaggerated) is favored over substance. That’s basically social media in a nutshell. You could be the worst kind of person offline, but as long as you uphold this fake, polar opposite persona about yourself in the online community, you’re going to be treated based off of the facade that you mendaciously impose. If you’re like me, your the type of person who wants to know someone on a deeper, more interpersonal level at the very core. You want to know what drives them, what their passions/interests are, what makes them tick and what makes them human. Me being this sort of, thought-provoking empath enables me to see people for who they really are. I get this powerful sense of awareness of how empty and devoid of life people really are, and the fact that they do an amazing job of concealing it. It’s no wonder people are so secretive about whats really going on in their lives, because in reality, behind closed doors a lot of people may be a complete and utter mess. Which means that they’d have to actually put forth the effort in admitting their faults and improving themselves. Which would be a massive blow to their ego as it requires much-needed humility and accepting defeat.
According to psychiatric news, “a study published online in Computers in Human Behavior on December 10, 2016, found that the use of multiple social media platforms is more strongly associated with depression and anxiety among young adults than time spent online (Nick Zagorski-Clinical and Research News).” If you ask me, I think alot of this has to do with people who are suffering from depression are comparing their lives to that of their cyberworld counterparts. While trying to maintain their ‘online persona’, they’re constantly scrolling down their newsfeed being bombarded with photos of happy people showing off their activities, material possessions, and inseparable bonds. Which causes the spectator to sink deeper and deeper into their own abyss. This is what causes a widespread feeling of dissatisfaction because their lives don’t compare to the highlights of everyone else’s. This is where the term ‘facade’ comes into play.
I think the saddest part about all of this is how the impact of social media has been statistically proven to destroy relationships and marriages at large. As of today, Facebook has more than 500+ million daily users and simultaneously Google posts reports from the legal community attesting to a statistic that 1 in 5 divorces today have a direct correlation to Facebook social networking relationships. It’s no surprise that social media has made it increasingly easy for people to secretly practice infidelity outside their relationships as they have ‘more options’.
Nowadays when I go out, I tend to people watch and scan out the environment. And one thing I notice oftentimes is, for instance, whenever I see a couple sitting down at a table in a restaurant, either one person is on their phone, or both people are on their phones. It’s almost as if the ‘dating’ stage is now done entirely on the phone through SMS rather than face to face. This is how sickly addicting this has become and I one day fear that it will get to the point where human interaction is almost non-existent.
It’s The CV of Our Lives- And the Employers Can See it Too
Social Media. What was once supposed to be a memory sharing app, has become the CV of our lives. Throughout the day we succumb to the urge of grabbing our phones and posting about what we’re engaging in at the moment, or our negative thoughts for all of our stalwarts to see. Not only does this grant everyone easy access to our location, but it also enables the feds to track our location as well (more on this a little later). And if we fail to regulate privacy settings on our accounts, then anyone not part of our social networks can also see into our profiles and locations. This even includes employers. Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that many employers will go so far as to snoop into the social media profiles of their potential candidates to determine hire-ability? “According to CareerBuilder’s latest social media recruitment survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals and more than 3,000 full-time U.S. workers, 60 percent of employers revealed that they use social networking sites to research job candidates (Amy McDonnell- Career Builder). ”
The following list shows the most critical factors that have deterred employers from hiring a potential candidate:
- Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information – 46 percent
- Information about candidate drinking or using drugs – 43 percent
- Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. – 33 percent
- Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or a fellow employee – 31 percent
- Poor communication skills – 29 percent
Now don’t get me wrong, on the flip side social media CAN be used in our favor in terms of gaining employment. For example, there are things you can do on sites like Facebook and Twitter to actually boost your online persona, social presence, and credentials. This should be done in a way to showcase your strongest personality traits about yourself and any qualifications that ultimately makes up who you are. But the fact that employers have to resort to such a practice to spy on their potential employees, I still find quite baffling. But the big brother is the main entity we should all be really worried about. Which brings me to my next point.
Big Brother Is Watching Our Every Move
I mean, this shouldn’t really be a surprise. Everyone and their mom is already aware that there is some form of pre-existing privacy/data breaching going on behind closed doors. But many people seem to brush this off and think that as long as they have control of their privacy settings, or opt to ‘permanently’ delete or deactivate an account, they have little to worry about. Well, allow me to educate you on this matter.
Think of it this way. Ever since you first used the internet, whatever day that was, whatever device or internet service provider you were using at the time, starting from the very first moment you browsed the worldwide web, the first bit of information you input was sent out into cyberspace to forever be logged, tracked and stored. In other words, there are supercomputers and data centers worldwide that store data archives of billions of users personal information, browser activities, and network traffic sources since day one. In fact, there are various surveillance programs under the NSA that collects internet communications from various U.S. internet companies- and would be glad to make a video on this in the near future. Not to mention, sometimes it’s as simple as typing in persons first and last name, email address or phone number in Google and their address could be populated as well as their address history and relatives. And if not, you could actually even pay for such services to provide you with this information.
Location Settings On Our Phones (How our every move is being tracked and stalked)
In every single Smart Phone, in the settings, there is a “location” feature that enables apps on your phone to use your location via GPS satellites. Now I’m sure you already knew of this, but maybe you didn’t know the reason behind it. Well, whenever GPS location is enabled on any device, no matter where you go or what you do, not only is your location being stored but the information is being sent out of your phone to various servers. These servers can be linked to apps, websites, web browsers, etc. With that being said, there will be times when- depending on a specific location you visit; let’s say, an electronics store for example, if you were window shopping and took a picture of an item you’d be interested in buying, it’s no surprise that once you get home, that same exact item would appear as an add either on your browser, or even on your facebook newsfeed. This has a lot to do with a tool called, “meta-data” which is a form of internet-based data collection and can be used to stalk millions. In fact, I even covered this in one of my older videos on my Youtube Channel titled, “GREY PILL Technology: The DARK SIDE of Technology | Part 2 *SHOCKING*”.
Just recently I was doing some research on this topic and came across some of the most shocking information to date in regards to data breaching from big companies like Google and Facebook. A Twitter user by the name of Dylan Curran, a web developer, and tech consultant made a series of posts on Twitter exposing both Google and Facebook demonstrating how much info they collect from their users. And the post literally went viral.
He also made a few Youtube videos to help guide people on how they can prevent Google from collecting their data by navigating through the privacy settings and making the right adjustments. I highly recommend everyone to watch the video below as it can put you on the right track to avoid becoming victim to the data extraction frenzy.
Now it goes even deeper. Remember earlier when I mentioned metadata being used as a tool to harvest internet-based data from users online? Another form of metadata can be extracted through calls and texts as well. Have you ever had a phone conversation with someone, and after hanging up the phone, not even an hour later you start seeing ads on your phone or PC that pertains to what your conversation was about? Check out this article titled, “Android Users, Change This Setting to Stop Facebook’s Collection of Your Call and Text Metadata” which will give you insight on how this stalkerish technology works.
Another trick for added privacy that I strongly recommend to everyone is to use a VPN which stands for “Virtual Private Network“. A VPN is a type of server that enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. When you start to search for services and are browsing on their websites, there are some additional items you may want to consider. Speaking of trust and privacy – some companies will use tracking cookies to determine how to best serve you ads, which other sites you’ve been to, and some will even phone home with specific personal information. Best case, this is an abuse of power by companies stretching the limits of their marketing ideas on how to gather this info, worst case, it can be used to intentionally violate your privacy and tie your device back to the site that was actively performed on it.
For starters, I highly recommend using a VPN called, “Express VPN” which for many years has been regarded as one of the best and most affordable VPN services available in all aspects of top-notch privacy and data protection.
I know all of this may sound daunting. I get it. But if you’re like me, it’s better to be informed of this epidemic and become educated on how it’s affecting our lives viscerally. Speaking of educating ourselves, as you all know I’m a bookworm and early on I mentioned a book on this topic that I bought online and read which inspired me to create this. This book is titled:
This book is definitely a popular one, highly rated and really drove home for me as I never truly understood the sheer power of the internet and the effect that it has on our minds, our hearts, and our overall well-being. The next step is to slowly wean ourselves away from this social media addiction, or austerely limit the information that we share, since quitting it all at once is deemed a challenge for many of us. Just like a drug addiction, it is a habit that has to be slowly broken by practice. We have come to the point where we have merged ourselves with our mobile devices to become one single entity. The impact of social media has taken over our lives. What we need to do, is separate ourselves from technology to such a point where we can live our lives as healthy and liberating as possible. This alone could help the world become a better place.